Pirates Prospects Daily: Upper Level Catcher Picture Becoming Clearer

With less than a week left till the season gets underway for both for the Major League squad and Triple-A Indianapolis, we are starting to see some movement with some of the players to where it’s giving a clearer picture of what the rosters may look like.

This is especially true at the catcher position, where recent events has not only made clear who the starters were going to be, but also gave insight on who the Major League backup may be when the season starts.

On Thursday it was discovered that Kevin Plawecki no longer had a locker, which it was later discovered that he had an opt-out in his contract upcoming. Since he was told he wasn’t going to be making the Major League roster, he decided to exercise said option.

That leaves the backup catcher battle between Jason Delay and Tyler Heineman, both played for the Pirates last year, with each putting up some strong defensive metrics. 

Neither are known for their offense, which has been evident this spring as the two have combined to go 3-for-30, with Delay picking up a home run as one of his two hits.

One of the two will get the nod as the team’s backup, at least until Endy Rodriguez is promoted. It looks like this last week will decide it.

Speaking of Rodriguez, we knew he was going to start the year in Indianapolis after finishing 2022 there, but it still remained to be seen where former first overall pick Henry Davis would begin his 2023 campaign.

This shouldn’t be too much a surprise, as Davis only played 31 games at Altoona last year and his wrist injury obviously hindered him a bit. It also opens up them both to be the primary catcher’s on their respective team.

That will be key in unlocking their full potential, as while they both can hit well enough to play elsewhere, but their best value comes from their elite bats being able to stick behind home plate. 

Developing at catcher isn’t as clean cut as other positions, so it’s key to get as much time as possible there. Finding a way to incorporate them both in the lineup can happen when we get to that situation. 

Beyond the starters, Abrahan Gutierrez, who I mentioned in Tuesday’s article drop, is the most likely candidate to backup Davis in Altoona. Carter Bins and whoever doesn’t win the backup spot will compete for time behind Rodriguez in Triple-A.

Pirates Prospects Daily

By John Dreker

Pirates play The Baltimore Orioles tonight at 6:05 PM. Home game, with TV available. Lineup will be posted below once it becomes available. Pirates tied 6-6 last night with Roansy Contreras as the starter. Ke’Bryan Hayes had three hits. Here’s the boxscore.

**Pirates Prospects Daily: The Second Base Battle is Heating Up Down the Stretch

**Pirates DVR: Rodolfo Castro Home Run, Johan Oviedo Strikeout, Ji-Hwan Bae RBI

**Pirates Option Travis Swaggerty and Tucupita Marcano to Indianapolis

Song of the Day

Today’s Lineup

Pirates are getting into regular season form, releasing the lineup right before the game starts tonight

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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PirateRican21

The Tower of Power is taller than Cruz!

Scam likely

More fun facts pirates catchers are hitting .113 combine. This spring.

PirateRican21

Pirates have petitioned the league to use a DH for the catching position.

Last edited 2 months ago by PirateRican21
PirateRican21

Good job by Cruz in that last at bat, working a walk after falling to 1-2.

pittsburghbob69

There was just a good Hunter Barco interview and injury update if anyone cares.

https://twitter.com/ellie_shreve/status/1637980458637045760?s=46&t=20luE5Yr56NPmKBVK9GnoQ

PirateRican21

It’s appreciated!

PirateRican21

Crowe is such a bad pitcher, his OPS lifetime v RH hitters, over .840 V LH over .750. I hope he’s gone by June.

1979andCounting

VV looked very good tonite. But I don’t think our starters can go 8 IP very often.

PirateRican21

Is a really bad pen, even Bednar doesn’t inspired the top echelon confident of a top closer. 70 is gonna be a reach…..😒

1979andCounting

And neither Capps nor Brown ask BC about Swaggerty! A whole inning of interview on a Sat. Nite game and crickets. No stones. Lost a lot of respect.

ArkyWags

Why would you think they’d ask that? It’d bed great if they would, but they’re not beat writers from an independent outlet. It’s house media. That’s a question that should come from Mackey or Robbie Biers.

EightMenOut

It would have gone like this…
Greg: what about Swaggerty?
Ben: service time manipulation
Greg: But there are a lot of posters on piratesprospects.com that think 25 is too old for that
Ben: c’mon Greg, why else would we have our best fielding CF, with over 400 ABs in AAA, and looking great at the plate this spring optioned to AAA, are you calling us stupid?

ArkyWags

So it’s service time manipulation to get an extra year of Swag when he’s 33?

EightMenOut

it would be 32. There are a lot of players in their early thirties playing very well and getting paid a lot. Not sure why 3X is some magical “he can’t play anymore” number to many on this site. Anyway, after watching more of Suwinski (it is all about last year) and CSN (it is all about Spring Training) getting reps, yeah, it’s the only theory that fits the data.

ArkyWags

How many of those young 30’s stars you cited were putting up a league average wRC+ in AAA in their age 24 season like Swag? Prolly not many because they were already producing in the show.
And no, it isn’t the only theory that fits the data.
Here’s an idea: they have Reynolds, Cutch, Joe, Suwinski for the outfield and some DH work, with Choi/Santana at 1B/DH. Now, you can argue that they haven’t prioritized keeping the right guys here with who they’ve acquired for this spots. And I’d agree with that. Too many corner/DH types and Swag is the only legit CF.
So to me, it’s an issue of roster construction and/or roster decisions. Which is still the wrong decision, but it’s not some nefarious plot to manipulate Swag’s years of control.

EightMenOut

four outfield locks are Reynolds,Suwinski,Cutch, and Joe. Therefore there are 3 remaining spots, with one going to backup catcher. For the last two spots it appears to between Bae,CSN, Mathias. Taking either CSN or Mathias over Swaggerty makes no sense. If you take, say, Swaggerty and Bae, then you actually have a well constructed roster for playing very good defense late in the game, if not the whole game. It is not nefarious, it is just being overly concerned about milking the system while not being totally dedicated to win now. 4 weeks for one year sounds smart, but it is not win now.

PirateRican21

SuwinsKi.

PirateRican21

SuwinsKKi.

jon6er

Looks like the Pirates are again going for a bad defensive team that can’t score runs as opposed to a bad defensive team which can get back some of the runs they allow, lol.

Wilbur Miller

Reportedly, Owings didn’t make the team.
👍

1979andCounting

Gotta admit he had you sweating!? He made it very interesting. I saw Newman in him and we’d be a better IF defense with him.

Wilbur Miller

Newman >>>>>>>>> Owings.
Rather take a shot on Mathias. He might hit some.

not avail

I’m surprised they didn’t keep Owings to maintain years of control on Maggi. /s

PirateRican21

patrick_kelly

I had a thought about Abrahan. I like the kids potential a lot and wonder if it wouldn’t be the worst idea to maybe bump him down to Greensboro for a few weeks until the Great Catcher Graduation begins. That would get him every day playing time instead of a handful of games a week till Davis is moved up. I don’t think doing that would displace anyone on his level at GBO, I think. Someone correct me if I’m forgetting someone that will be manning the C position there.

jon6er

He should get enough playing time in Altoona with Davis being able to dh and play some outfield and the same the same with Bins in Indy.

patrick_kelly

And I see that Lee made the same point below. Carry on.

VTBucFan

At PC, Harrington mowing down Orioles hitters thru three. Throws hard, throws strikes, smooth delivery. Very impressive. Looks like Low A Bradenton level by guys in field.

TNBucs

He might be a steal as someone who switched to pitching relatively recently and who the scouts in the know seemed to really like. The more I read about him, the more I thought our ’22 draft was very comparable to the ’21 draft that we all loved.

And I’m envious that you’re at PC 🙂

Last edited 2 months ago by TNBucs
VTBucFan

What I really liked about Harrington is how effortless his delivery seems compared to someone like Jared Jones, who at times appears to be putting out max effort on his pitches that make you cringe a little. Michael Kennedy pitched one inning and got hit around some but it was only one outing. When he walked by me to warmup, I was surprised how short he was, not that there’s anything wrong with that!

hoptown

Bench Battles…………….original…..now
10) Tyler Heineman………..60%……90%
11) Conner Joe………………..90%……90%
12) Canaan Smith-Njigba.30%……70%
13) Chris Owings…………….50%……60%
—————————————————————
14) Ji-Hwan Bae…………….60%……50%
15) Mark Mathias……………n/a……..30%
16) Jason Delay……………..10%……10%
17) Miguel Andujar………….10%……..5%
18) Drew Maggi………………..5%……..0%
.
It seems Heineman will be the backup catcher as he’s been given more opportunities in ST. With Swaggerty optioned, Joe is a virtual lock. 12 thru 15 are battling for the last 2 spots. Seems like it could be any combination. Very difficult to call. I guess I’ll place my bets on Njigba and Owings.

Last edited 2 months ago by hoptown
Mblee24

I agree with your percentages other than switching owings and Mathias. Only because Mathias is on the 40 and owings isn’t.

sewer2001

There aren’t enough 60 day DL options to get owings on the 49 man without dumping vilade which BC seems unwilling to do.

hoptown

Someone has to be dropped to add Heineman. Vilade or return Jose Hernandez are the most obvious choices. Beyond that it’s probably DFA Yohan Ramirez or Mark Mathias or Cal Mitchell.

b mcferren

Bet you vilade lasts longer than cal

PirateRican21

Velazquez is pitching against the Orioles….it feel like he has only pitched against the Orioles, at least is televised this time.

SouthernBuc

An update on Mlb Trade Rumors on the Giants sure makes it sound like Sabol will at some point need to be trusted to be one of two catchers on the MLB roster for the Giants to stay on the roster. They basically said with outfield injuries there is flexibility to carry Sabol since he can play OF. Once the outfielders (Haniger and Slater) return, Sabol needs to be advance enough at catcher to be one of two.

If that comment holds true, it seems there is a higher likelihood than I thought in him coming back to the Pirates.

michaelbro8

if he keeps scorching the ball like he is, he might end up the Giants starting catcher

Scam likely

Still has to go through waivers

1979andCounting

This one isn’t even close imo. Heineman gets the job over Delay.

jon6er

Sad but true and having to decide between those two and carrying a career .189 hitter as your starter is sad in itself!

1979andCounting

Of all the moves made this winter and this spring, and there have been many dozens, the ONE I hate the most is Hedges. We are going to be a pre-DH era lineup with a pitcher batting. We certainly don’t need that handicap.

ArkyWags

Agreed. They could have gotten someone with 3/4 of the defense and 500x the offense. He’s awful.

jon6er

Another year of he’s good defensively and will be an asset for our young pitchers who by the way will mostly not be in Pittsburgh. Good strategy for the worse scoring team in baseball, add a 30 yo career .189 hitter.

leefieux

No surprise on Endy or Davis, but shouldn’t Abraham be catching regularly at High A then moving up to AA when Endy/Henry move up?

SouthernBuc

Agree, one would think the same logic in wanting Davis to catch full time would work for Gutierrez.

mpg43952

“I know a lot of royalty, the Duke of Ellington, the Count of Basie, the Earl of Hines.” – Bugs Bunny

smenderle

Sir Ossis of Liver.

piratemike

Count de Monie.

mpg43952

Didn’t get a harrumph out of you, mister!

piratemike

Ahhh, whats up Doc?

Wabbit_Season

HEY! Yer’ steamin’ up my tail!

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